— Updated on 29 March 2023

Vacheron Constantin Moves Forward By Looking Back, For Its New 2023 Novelties

— Updated on 29 March 2023
Randy Lai
WORDS BY
Randy Lai

Whereas Vacheron Constantin marked last year’s edition of Watches & Wonders with the re-issue of the vaunted 222 , the Holy Trinity watchmaker’s clarion call in 2023 appears to be examining the passage of time in retrograde.

Of all the major launches, happening across four of the brand’s collections, three involve the introduction of backward-travelling displays: sometimes days; dates; or, as luck would have it in the case of the minimalistic Patrimony collection, both.

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Thankfully, for enthusiasts who are in the market for something more de rigeur – medium-sized automatic sports watch, anybody? – Vacheron has a few tricks up its well-coiffed sleeve.

Below, we take a quick macro look at all the Vacheron Constantin 2023 novelties that are coming out of Watches & Wonders this week. Be sure to check out our rolling coverage from all the other brands here, and watch the video above.


Highlights From The Vacheron Constantin 2023 Novelties Presentation

New sizes in the Overseas family: now in 34.5mm and 35mm

Vacheron Constantin 2023 novelties

Starting with the least interesting (yet most commercially pivotal) of these 2023 novelties, Vacheron has just revealed two new sizes in their hugely popular Overseas collection.

Close spiritual descendants of the historic 222 sports watch, these four new Overseas models – in pink gold or steel, with/without gem setting – downsize to 34.5mm and 35mm, further enhancing the collection’s already wide spectrum of choice.

Finished with sunburst blue and pink dials, these more compact Overseas models are equipped with a variation of Vacheron’s calibre 1088 – a popular choice of engine for the brand’s Égérie collection.

Putting out 40 hours of reserve power, these movements are visible through each model’s exhibition caseback – powered by a solid 22K gold rotor that is emblazoned with the ‘Compass Rose’ (a leitmotif in the travel-focused Overseas line-up).

Vacheron Constantin 2023 novelties

For gem-setting, Vacheron opted to use the larger of the two new case sizes (35mm); though that hasn’t stopped the brand from touting the unisex credentials of the plain jane 34.5mm models. According to Christian Selmoni, the brand’s Director of Style and Heritage, all of these releases are “equally suited to both men’s and women’s wrists” – embodying the shift back toward “classical standards” in watch design that has become prevalent across the industry.

As you can see in the press images, the Overseas’s large serrated bezel and use of angular geometries mean the 34.5mm diameter will likely flatter a range of wrist sizes.

Meanwhile, per Vacheron’s longstanding custom for many years now, all four models can be customised using the interchangeable bracelet system: giving clients the instant ability to flit between wearing the Overseas on calfskin leather, a metal bracelet or patterned favourite (our personal pick of the litter).

PRICE:  AU$54,984 (approx.) for pink dial / AU$92,184 (approx.) for blue dial + pink gold case / AU$42,043 (approx.) for blue dial + steel case


The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date (Ref. 4000U)

Vacheron Constantin 2023 novelties
Pictured: The latest Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date with salmon dial, adjacent to an earlier model in white (at right).

Inspired by rare retrograde display watches crafted in the 1940s; and the brand’s decades-long affinity for the aesthetic combination of salmon-on-white metal, this new Patrimony is the purest expression of Vacheron’s approach to mid-century, heritage-inspired watchmaking.

Confirmed by brand spokespeople to be a “limited annual production”, it simultaneously integrates a reverse-traveling date and day indication – positioned across the dial’s upper and lower sectors. A highly legible, vintage-inspired way to display two of the most useful calendar indications in everyday life, Vacheron have enhanced the retrograde day-date’s appeal further still with a salmon dial and 950 platinum case (42.5mm).

Interestingly, according to Selmoni, this combo of pinkish dials and white metal is something Vacheron fans will get to observe play out across the brand’s various collections “in limited annual production” – expanding on the previous practice of only offering this particular aesthetic in rare watches like the Ref. 49005.

The performance specs of this double retrograde movement are in line with what you’d expect out of such a complicated architecture. Offering just shy of a 2-day power reserve, this particular Patrimony movement is still characterised by an intricate multi-level layout; with wide Côtes de Genève stripes on the bridges, black-polished screws and a 22K gold rotor that has been open-worked with Vacheron’s distinctive Maltese cross emblem.

PRICE: $113,198 (approx.)


The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moonphase Retrograde Date

A good deal less boisterous than the skeletonised Overseas QP that Vacheron unveiled at Watches & Wonders in 2022, this complicated 41mm riff on the brand’s flagship sports watch combines a retrograde date display and what is being described as a “precision moonphase”. This marks the first time that these two complications have been seen alongside one another, within the sport-chic Overseas framework.

Vacheron Constantin new watches 2023

Despite this, the moonphase retrograde date boasts a high degree of wearability: a mere 2.38mm thicker than the aforementioned ultra-thin Overseas QP. Adding to this is Vacheron’s now-characteristic mastery over various shades of blue, with the latest Overseas dial offering a balance of both sunburst and velvet-y finishes. (Note how the rehaut containing the watch’s minute track is darker and less glossy in appearance than the central part of the dial.)

In contrast to the Patrimony’s rotor architecture, the movement inside this Overseas is powered by a solid gold rotor – decorated with the emblematic ‘Compass Rose’ motif and sandblasted finishing. The moonphase (which ostensibly only requires a one-day adjustment every 122 years) is displayed through an aperture in the dial at 6 o’clock, and has been precisely programmed to show the moon’s last position for up to 29.5 days.

According to Selmoni, the ‘precision’ requirement means that the moonphase in this calibre is “far more complex…than its standard counterpart”, requiring the addition of a 135-tooth wheel in order to compute the difference between a mechanical and true lunar cycle.

PRICE: $77,627 (approx.)


The Vacheron Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface

Easily among my favourite pieces to come out of the Vacheron Constantin 2023 novelties presentation, this new tourbillon – part of the technically demanding, eyewateringly pricey Traditionnelle collection – is the brand’s answer to the horological one-upmanship that has come to define the luxury watch industry in recent years.

Bearing a strong visual resemblance to the Traditionnelle ‘Twin Beat’ – an utterly bonkers technical achievement that boasted a variable 65-day power reserve – the new tourbillon retrograde date is a continuation of the aesthetic journey that that watch started in 2019.

The model draws on a number of classic disciplines in high watchmaking: pushing the boundaries of what is technically possible by simultaneously offering a retrograde display; self-winding movement architecture; ‘open face’ dial; automatic winding; and (just to really rub the competition’s nose in it) a tourbillon – constructed in the contours of the iconic Maltese cross.

None of this, it has to be said, has come at the expense of wearability. The new Traditionnelle registers a 41mm diameter and thickness of 11.07mm – making it thinner than even the simplest Richard Mille tonneau.

Selmoni describes the watch’s aesthetic as “playing on tensions between contemporary style and the power of tradition”: a sentiment that comes across palpably in the co-mingling of a classic case shape, with mechanical internals that have been treated using modern finishing processes.

In the close-up of the dial above (machined using transparent sapphire) you can clearly see that the retrograde mechanism is fixed in plate that is above the dial’s central plane, adding even more visual depth to the surfaces below. Akin with the Twin Beat, the main dial’s upper and lower segments are contrasted using a vertical brushing effect and hand-applied guilloché both a kind of intelligent visual shorthand for quickly identifying the date and tourbillon.

PRICE: $323,444 (approx.)

Randy Lai
WORDS by
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].